Group domination and inequality in context: evidence for the unstable meanings of social dominance and authoritarianism


  • The authors have contributed equally to this research.


Both social dominance orientation (SDO) and right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) are assumed to be general and relatively stable psychological orientations that individuals ‘carry with them’ from context to context, influencing responses to salient forms of intergroup inequality and domination. In two experimental studies we tested the relative stability of SDO (Studies 1 and 2) and RWA (Study 1). That is, we examined whether people who score relatively high on SDO/RWA in one context tend to support intergroup hierarchy and domination in other contexts. To do so, we manipulated the salience of different intergroup relationships before measuring SDO and RWA, and then observed the associations among these constructs and attitudes toward specific intergroup relationships and legitimizing ideologies (support for war, conservatism, heterosexism, and religious fundamentalism). Contrary to the assumption of relative stability, the extent to which SDO and RWA were related to these specific attitudes and ideologies varied markedly depending on the experimental context. These results highlight the contextual basis and meaning of individuals' expressed support for group-based dominance. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.